January 24, 2022

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Taliban Permit Polio Vaccine Program to Restart in Afghanistan

Taliban Allow Polio Vaccine Program to Restart in Afghanistan

In an effort to eradicate polio and increase well being measures for youngsters in Afghanistan, the Taliban authorities has agreed to restart a door-to-door vaccination program subsequent month, and can enable girls to be frontline staff within the drive, well being officers announced on Tuesday.

The announcement, by the World Well being Group and United Nations Youngsters’s Fund, is a breakthrough in a rustic that has been known as the “world’s polio capital,” a spot the place vaccinators have confronted the dual challenges of a lack of access to sufferers and deadly violence.

The five-day nationwide program to distribute the polio vaccine, which is given orally and in a number of doses, will start Nov. 8, in line with officers. The drive goals to succeed in about 10 million youngsters, in line with Dr. Hamid Jafari, head of polio eradication for the W.H.O.’s jap Mediterranean area.

Greater than 3.3 million youngsters had beforehand “remained inaccessible to vaccination campaigns,” in line with the assertion saying the drive. Youngsters who’re 6 months to 59 months outdated can even be given vitamin A dietary supplements through the marketing campaign, officers mentioned.

Phrase of the settlement comes because the Taliban have been displaying some restricted flexibility in dealings with the skin world as the federal government seeks desperately wanted support amid an ailing economic system and rising meals shortage.

Along with this polio vaccination program, “all events have agreed on the necessity to instantly begin measles and Covid-19 vaccination campaigns,” the assertion from the teams mentioned. And a second polio vaccination program in Afghanistan shall be synchronized with one in neighboring Pakistan that’s scheduled to start in December, it mentioned.

Half a dozen extra vaccination packages are scheduled to start subsequent 12 months, in line with Dr. Jafari.

In saying the vaccination program, well being officers mentioned the Taliban “expressed their dedication” to permit girls to be frontline staff within the drive and “for offering safety and assuring the protection of all well being staff throughout the nation.”

Dr. Jafari mentioned that tens of hundreds of girls had been anticipated to work within the vaccination effort, as vaccinators, supervisors and managers.

The announcement comes months after a number of girls working as polio vaccinators were killed, stifling efforts to inoculate youngsters towards the illness. In March, three girls working for the federal government’s polio vaccine marketing campaign had been shot dead in Jalalabad in jap Afghanistan, native officers mentioned.

“UNICEF is outraged by this assault,” the group said on the time. “Frontline well being staff ought to by no means be a goal of violence.”

Across the identical time of the shootings, there was an explosion on the metropolis’s regional hospital, close to the compound the place the vaccines are saved, officers mentioned.

No group took credit score for these assaults. However the Taliban have previously expressed skepticism of door-to-door vaccination drives, saying they believed some vaccinators acted as spies.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August, 20 years after the American-led invasion of the nation drove the group from energy.

Well being officers welcomed the Taliban’s help for this system.

“We’ve been working with them for many years,” Dr. Jafari mentioned, noting that the Taliban managed giant components of the nation throughout their exile from energy. The Taliban “have at all times been supportive of polio vaccination and eradication,” he mentioned.

Dr. Ahmed al-Mandhari, the WHO’s regional director for the Japanese Mediterranean, mentioned, “The urgency with which the Taliban management desires the polio marketing campaign to proceed demonstrates a joint dedication to keep up the well being system and restart important immunizations to avert additional outbreaks of preventable illnesses.”

Restarting this vaccination program, mentioned George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia, is “a step nearer towards attaining our shared hope of eradicating polio within the area.”

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